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Biography and teachings of Sikh Gurus



Divine light, The Eternal Man, the Disciple Guru, the First Man

Born: (22nd December 1666 or 7 of Pausa, 1723 as per Vikrami calendar)

Place of birth: Harimandir, Patna Sahib (Bihar)

Parents: Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur ji and Mata Gujari ji)

Married: Mata Jeeto ji, Mata Suridari ji and Mata Sahib Devi ji

Became the Tenth Guru: 18 November 1675 or 12 of Magha, 1732 as per Vikrami calendar)

Period: The reign of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb

Teachings: Oneness of mankind, love and worship of God, self-awakening, freedom from temporal ties, glory to religion, welfare of others and valour

The tradition of Gurus in Sikh history spanned a period of around 239 years. The ideal that was there for all to see and learn from right since the birth of Guru Nanak in 1469 ti11 the death of Guru Gobind Singh ji in 1708 throughout remained

"Awwal Allah noor upaya Kudrat ke sabh bande..." (God created light of which all the beings were born) or "Manas ki jaat sabhe eke pehchanbo ..."

(The whole mankind is but one).

But this ideal passed through different phases. Enlightenment of man received more emphasis in the first phase. In the second phase, which started with Guru Arjun Dev ji, the same human ideal of welfare of all and unity of the Indian society and humankind was carried forward through the teachings of sacrifice with bravery and self-confidence. The third phase consisted of completing the struggle through armed resistance in order to achieve the same ideal. The whole life of Guru Gobind Singh ji was full of prayer (meditation), wars and sacrifices. During this period of around two and a half decades there was complete harmony between his religion and deeds. His mission can also be termed the mission of unity, equality, compassion, love and of virtuous deeds.

The 10th Guru was born on 22nd December 1666 to Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur ji and Mata Gujari at Patna (Bihar). At that time, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur was away on a tour of Assam. He expressed great joy on hearing the news of the birth of his child and named him Sri Gobind Rai. His mother Mata Gujari, her brother Mama Kirpal ji and the leading disciples took good care of his upbringing. He was taught Gurumukhi script in childhood. He was told about the lives and deeds of the previous Gurus. As he grew up he was also taught the history of India, and was made aware of the socia1, religious and political situation. Right from the beginning he was also given training in music, prayers and use of weapons in accordance with the Guru traditions. Research shows that the Guru’s family had close relations with Hindus, Muslims and people of other creeds. The families of Nawab Rahim Bakhsh and Karim Bakhsh and of Raja Fateh Chand find mention in this context. All the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh children used to play and study together. They favoured the banks of Ganga for their games. After returning from Assam, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji called the whole family from Patna to Anandpur. In Phalgun month of Vikrami year 1728, Mama Kirpal started out with the whole family on a journey to Punjab. It took them through Baksar, Kashi, Prayag, Ayodhya, Lucknow, Mathura, Saharanpur and Ambala. Leading Sikhs also accompanied them. In Lakhnaur, Bhikhan Shah and Peer Arifdeen met the Guru. They reached Anandpur in the Magha month of 1729 as per Vikrami calendar.

It was at this place that the time of the great saga of Guru Tegh Bahadur’s sacrifice came about, and in November 1675 Gobind Rai became the tenth Sikh Guru. There could have been a chance that, due to his tender age, Guru Gobind Rai would get scared in the situation arising after the sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. But he had the support of the history of the Gurus and the Sikh traditions. With the passage of time Guru Gobind Singh ji became even more resolute and self-aware. His normal activities included holding a big court, studying philosophy and politics and practising weapons. Guru ji was aware that the dark forces of the time were in the hands of the Mughal emperor and the Indian society could not provide any resistance as it was caught up in the clutches of ancient social mores and restrictions.

Around that time the glory of the Sikh tradition started spreading all over India. Devotees who included Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs came from afar to meet the tenth Guru of the Sikhs. The Hindu hill rajas were partners of the Mughal regime but at the same time they were looting Hindus under the pretext of protecting their religion. These rajas were scared of the increasing popularity of Guru Gobind Singh ji in Anandpur. They were especially scared of the growing military might of Guru ji and the increase in the size of the gatherings. They incited the governors of Aurangzeb against Guru ji. Out of these rajas Bhim Chand and Kesari Chand were against the Guru, whereas Raja Rai Basali, Rana Bhanbore and Raja Medni Prakash were devotees and admirers of the Guru.

Marriages: Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji had three wives.

Mata Jeeto ji: She was the daughter of Harijas Subhikhi of Lahore. This marriage was solemnized in 1734. Three sons - baba Jujhar Singh, baba Zoravar Singh and baba Fateh Singh were born to her. But in Vikrami year 1757 mata Jeeto passed away.

Mata Sundari ji: She was the daughter of Ram Saran of Lahore. She was said to have been married to Guru ji in Vikrami year 1741. Guru ji’s youngest son baba Ajit Singh was born to her. AAer the death of the tenth Guru she lived in Delhi. Outside Turkman Gate in Delhi there is a house (haveli) known by her name. After Guru ji her word was obeyed amongst the Sikhs. It was she who appointed Bhai Mani Singh the head priest of Darbar Sahib in Amritsar.

Mata Sahib Devi ji: She was the daughter of bhai Ramu Bassi of Rohtas in Jehlam district. Bhai Ramu came to Anandpur and told the Guru that his daughter already belonged to the Guru because she had vowed that she will marry only Guru ji. To this Guru ji replied that he will not marry again, but will maintain a platonic relationship with her. And she will have to spend her life in devotion. Bhai Santokh Singh has written in Suraj Prakash that when Mata Sahib Devi demanded progeny from Guru Gobind Singh ji he said that he had given her all the followers of Khalsa religion as progeny. Later, when Guru Gobind Singh had to leave Anandpur and he went on a tour of the South after sacrificing all his four sons, Mata Sundari ji and Mata Sahib Devi ji lived with him for some time in Hazoor Sahib. Mata Sahib Devi passed away in Delhi.

It is said that some of the orders issued by Mata Sundari and Mata Sahib Devi are still available in Patna.

The rajas of Baidhar kept fighting amongst themselves despite being the supporters of the Mughal government. Guru ji helped Raja Fateh Chand and Raja Medni Prakash arrive at a truce. At the request of Raja Medni Prakash in the Vikrami year 1742 Guru ji founded the town of Paunta at a place called Kiarpur. Syed Badruddin alias Budhu Shah of Sadhaura also met Guru ji at Paunta. At his request, Guru ji hired 500 pathans who had been dismissed from the Mughal army into his own army. Gradually, Paunta turned into a centre of learning, religious discourse, arts and martial training. Scholars, pundits, poets, learned men, holy men and martial experts used to come to Paunta to visit Guru Gobind Singh ji.

In the course of his life, Guru Gobind Singh fought four battles of which the battle of Bhangani, fought against the hill rajas was the first. Raja Fateh Shah and Bhim Chand gathered the smaller rajas together and prepared for a battle against Guru ji. Hearing of the impending battle, the 500 pathans hired by Guru ji, ran away. Guru ji wrote a letter informing Budhu Shah about it. He came to Guru ji along with his two brothers, four sons and 700 followers. Guru ji set up camp near Bhangani village which was located between river Giri and Jamuna river at a distance of about 20 kilometers from Paunta. This force was around 5000 strong. The hill army was led by Raja Bhim Chand, Fateh Shah, Gopal Chand Guleria, Dayal Chand Kangra, Dayal Chand Kathgarhia, Hayat Khan, Bhikhan Khan, Najabat Khan and others. The battle took place in Vikrami year 1746. The two sons of Budhu Shah were killed in the battle, but Guru ji won the battle.

The Anandpur court of Guru Gobind Singh was frequented by well-known scholars, poets and translators from the whole of India. The better known poets included Bhai Nand Lal, Senapati, Amrit Rai, Chandan, Alam, Lakhan, Bidhi Chand, Hussain, Dharam Singh, bhai Mani Singh, Ram Chand, Heer and Kesho Das. The Guru got Hindu and Muslim history written by well-known scholars, got books written in Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic and Braj Bhasha.

Creation of the Khalsa: After conducting a deep study of the life and experiences of the Sikh Gurus, the history, the prevailing conditions in the Indian society and the policies of the Mughal empire and after prolonged meditation, Guru Gobind Singh decided to take the guru tradition and the long struggle of the mission of the Gurus to a conclusion. He announced his decision to hold a massive congregation of followers from all over the country at Anandpur. A congregation was arranged in April 1699 on the first day of Vaisakh month by sending orders to Sikhs everywhere and inviting others. Around 80,000 people gathered. A stage was set up at today’s Kesgarh. After singing of hymns, Guru ji, who was fully attired as a warrior, brandished his naked sword and announced that the Guru needed the head of a Sikh. The congregation fell silent. What had come upon the Guru, thought one and all. After some time Bhai Daya Singh got up and presented himself before the Guru. He was of warrior caste (khatri) and was from Lahore. The Guru took him into the tent which was pitched at the back. He came back with his sword dripping with blood and asked for another head. Dharam Chand, a jat from Hastinapur arose and offered his head. Guru ji patted him on the back and took him into the tent. Then came back and demanded a third, a fourth and a fourth life. Some members of the congregation left out of fear and astonishment. Some went and complained to Mata Sundari about his behaviour. After the second person, Mohkam Chand who belonged to the caste of washermen from Dwarka, Himmat Rai, a fisherman of Jagannath and Sahib Chand, a barber from Bidarpur offered themselves. After attiring all of them in robes and weapons, the Guru called them his Five Favourites (Panj Piare) in front of the whole congregation. He prepared a bowl of holy nectar, the amrit chanting the five sacred texts all the while and passing the two-edged dagger through it.

He offered amrit to all the five and announced that henceforth Daya Singh, Dharam Singh, Mohkam Singh, Himmat Singh and Sahib Singh shall be known as the Five Favourites who will protect the sufferers, wi11 fight against oppressors as lions and will eliminate tyranny. Thereafter, the Guru partook of the holy nectar from the Five. Thus he became "the disciple Guru". He made Sikhs into "Singhs" (lions) and women Sikhs he called "Kaur" (warrior). By calling the gathering of Sikhs the Khalsa (pure), he gave birth to an army of warriors whose mission was to get rid of oppression and injustice and to create a society having spiritual peace, unity of humankind and a feeling of sharing.

Creation of the Khalsa also signified the end of caste and creed, religious differences and the birth of a new Man. On that occasion Guru ji said:

"Chunkar az hama heelate dar guzasht,

Halal ast burdan bshamshir dast."

(It is just to raise the sword when all other means fail).

The Khalsa won the battle of Guler after the battle of Bhangani and then defeated the 10,000 strong army of Pende Khan and Deena Beg in the first battle of Anandpur. This battle took place in the month of Asadh in the Vikrami year 1758. After this battle the hill rajas asked for help from the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb ordered the Delhi and Lahore forces to help the rajas jointly. An army of 1,000,000 men attacked Anandpur. The Khalsa numbered 10,000 men. Both sides suffered heavy losses. The army of Aurangzeb and hill rajas laid siege to Anandpur fort for eight months. It was in this battle of Anandpur that Bhai Kanhaya served as a unique soldier. He would offer water to drink to the wounded in the battlefield and would bandage their wounds. But the most surprising thing was that he served not only the Khalsa army but also the wounded soldiers of the enemy. When Sikhs complained to the Guru about him, the Guru praised him when he said that he could see only the image of his Guru in all the wounded.

When the hill rajas failed to conquer the Anandpur fort even with the help of the Mughal army, they sent a message of truce to the Guru. It said that if they vacated the fort no harm would be done to the Sikhs and the Guru. Most of the Sikhs had died on the battlefield. The remaining were going hungry due to the long siege. The Guru told his disciples that the hill rajas could not be trusted. Some more time elapsed. But when a majority of the Sikhs decided to leave the fort, the Guru left it at midnight on the 4th of Pausa month of Vikrami year 1761 along with his family and 500 Sikhs. They were followed. A fierce battle was fought on the banks of Sirsa river. Hundreds of Sikhs died. The younger sons and Mata Gujari were separated from the Guru. The Guru reached the fortress of Chamkaur along with his two elder sons Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh and a few Sikhs. They halted there. The Mughal forces followed them to Chamkaur. In the battle of Chamkaur, the badly outnumbered Sikhs fought, gamely. The Guru sent his sons Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh also to the battle where they lost their lives. At this the Five Favourites implored the Guru to leave the Chamkaur fortress because it was necessary not to lose the Guru. The Guru had to accede to their wish. When they were leaving the fortress the Guru and the Sikhs lost each other. The Guru reached the jungles of Machhiwara. Accepting the events as the will of God, the Guru wrote: "Mitar piare nun haal muridan da kehna..."

He also wrote a letter to the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb from there. The Guru dressed up as a Muslim sage, donning blue robes, left the jungle of Machhiwara. He was accompanied by Bhai Man Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh. Ghani Khan and Nabi Khan were also with him. After a long journey the Guru reached Alamgir near Ludhiana, and moved further to Lakhi Jungle via Kot Kapura.

In the Vaisakh month of Vikrami year 1762 the Guru was staying near Khidrana di Dhab. Troops from Sarhand province followed him there. The Guru had only a few Sikhs with him who were led by Bhai Mahan Singh and Mai Bhago. Mahan Singh and his 40 soldiers had left the Guru at Anandpur after tendering their resignation. All of them laid their lives in the battle of Muktsar. Here, the Guru tore the letter of resignation of Mahan Singh in his presence saying that he had rejoined the broken link.

Zafarnama: The Guru came to know of the demise of his younger sons before the battle of Muktsar. Here, in Malwa the Guru received Aurangzeb’s reply to his letter. The Guru wrote another letter to Aurangzeb which is known as zafarnama (letter of victory). The letter provides insight into Guru Gobind Singh’s bravery, firm beliefs, oneness of God and high spirits. In the letter he warned Aurangzeb that his reign of terror and deception will not last 1ong. After writing zafarnama in Kangra the Guru went to Sabo ki Talwandi, now known as Damdama Sahib. Mata Sundari and Mata Sahib Devi joined him there. They deeply mourned the loss of a11 the four sons but the Guru provided them solace saying "Char moye to kya hua, Ab jeevat kai hazaar" (Grieve not over your four children as now thousands of them live on). He signified thereby that the Khalsa created by him were like his offspring and were a continuation of the Guru.

On the 5th of Kartik in Vikrami year 1762 the Guru left Damdama Sahib for Rajputana. Aurangzeb died in 1707. A fight broke out for the throne between his sons Muazzam (Bahadur Shah) and Azam. Muazzam won and ascended to the Delhi throne under the name of Bahadur Shah. The Guru went to Agra to meet him at his invitation. It is said that this meeting took place on 24th July 1707.

The Guru departed for the South from there. Here, he rested in Nanded. An ascetic Madho Das met him there. Madho Das worshipped gods and goddesses and controlled people with his mental power. He held a discussion with the Guru and was so impressed that he turned a disciple of the Guru. He started spending all his time in the company of the Guru. He was so impressed by the life and mission of the Sikh gurus that the Guru named him Banda Singh Bahadur (the Brave Man). He gave him five men and sent him to conquer the Sarhand province.

At Nanded, two pathans came and met the Guru under the pretext of selling horses. Using treachery, they badly wounded him in the stomach. These pathans had been sent from the Sarhand province to try and kill the Guru. The Sikhs bandaged the Guru. The wound healed but opened again when he was stringing his bow. The Guru felt that his time had come. He ordered his followers that henceforth Granth Sahib, the Holy Book of the Sikhs, be considered the Guru of the Sikhs. After issuing that order he passed away. The gurudwara of Hazoor Sahib stands at that place today.

Famous Gurudwaras connected with Guru Gobind Singhji

News from Delhi
(Gurdwara Patal Puri, Kiratpur, Dist. Ropar)

  Peace and Poetry
(Gurdwara Vibhore Sahib, Dist. Nangal)

  Fortress of Bliss
(Qila Anandgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, Dist. Ropar)

  River Crossing
(Gurdwara Ghat Sahib, Dist. Nangal)

  A Brick Kiln
(Gurdwara Bhatha Sahib, Dist. Ropar)

  The Gurus Mighty Sword
(Gurdwara Bhadaur, Dist. Sangrur)

  Baptism of Steel
(Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, Dist. Ropar)

  Betrayal of an Oath
(Gurdwara Parivar Vichhora, Dist. Ropar)

  The Final Stand
(Gurdwara Garhi Sahib, Chamkaur Sahib, Dist. Ropar)

  "All the Khalsa are My Children"
(Gurdwara Katalgarh Sahib, Chamkaur Sahib, Dist. Ropar)

  Alone in the Forest
(Gurdwara Charan Kanwal, Machhiwara, Dist. Ludhiana)

  A Nights Refuge
(Gurdwara Chubara Sahib, Machhiwara, Dist. Ludhiana)

  Help from an Unlikely Source
(Gurdwara Ghani Khan Nabi Khan, Machhiwara, Dist. Ludhiana)

  Rest for a Night
(Gurdwara Katana Sahib, Dist. Ludhiana)

  A Fond Farewell
(Gurdwara Alamgir, Dist. Ludhiana)

  A Special Tree
(Gurdwara Phalahi Sahib, Dist. Ludhiana)

Gurdwara Raikot, Dist. Ludhiana

  Supreme Sacrifice
(Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, Sirhind, Dist. Patiala)

  A Letter of Defiance
(Gurdwara Zafarnama, Dist. Bathinda)

  Blessed by God
(Gurdwara Gangsar, Jaito, Dist. Faridkot)

  The Last Battle
(Gurdwara Tibbi Sahib, Muktsar, Dist. Faridkot)

  40 Immortals
(Gurdwara Thambu Mal & Darbar Sahib, Muktsar, Dist. Faridkot)

  Daily Prayers
(Gurdwara Shahid Ganj, Muksar, Dist. Faridkot)

  Ghosts and Superstitions
(Gurdwara Haji Rattan, Dist. Bathinda)

  The Next Guru
(Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, Dist. Bathinda)